More strictness on Shimla’s sealed roads to encourage auto-free zones
SHIMLA: The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the government to file a status report on a list of permit holders who are authorised to drive vehicles on roads sealed to traffic here.
The court directed government functionaries to file a fresh status reports indicating the steps taken by them to implement the mandate of the Shimla Road Users and Pedestrians (Public Safety and Convenience) Act of 2007.
Hearing a petition on vehicular problems of Shimla, a division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan has directed, among others, the chief secretary and the principal secretaries of urban development and transport to remain present in the court on November 24, the next date of hearing.
The high court, in an order made available to the media on Tuesday, observed the vehicles of the central government were also plying on the sealed and restricted roads.
It sought a status report indicating how the Indian Army vehicles were plying on the Mall Road and whether the requisite permits have been issued in terms of its earlier directions. It also sought information about the particulars of all the permits.
“The government has furnished the list of permit holders, which, on the face of it, appears not in tune with the mandate of the act,” said the bench while favouring the practice of auto-free zones in Shimla.
In addition to filing the compliance reports, they are directed to pinpoint who is or are the officer(s) who issued the permits in violation of the provisions of the pedestrians act and are also directed to cancel all those permits, which have been issued in breach of the mandate of the act.
The high court also sought details about the police, traffic officers and officials, who are manning the entry points, and what actions they have drawn if they have noticed any violation.
Shimla has several auto-free zones to facilitate unrestricted movement of pedestrians.
The strolling culture of Shimla, which served as the summer capital of the British India between 1864 and 1939, was developed by the colonial rulers.
The Mall and the historic Ridge, an open space just above the Mall and now a hub of commercial activity, were once ‘British only’ streets meant for strolling.